The Humber is a renewable energy “powerhouse” that is central to the country’s transition to a zero-carbon economy, a senior government figure has said.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, told The Waterline Summit 2020 the region is a beacon for other industrial clusters and has a crucial part to play in the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The immersive digital summit, organised by Marketing Humber, has this week attracted more than 3,000 visitors, including a global audience from countries including the United States, China, Australia, India and Brazil.
It has featured renowned speakers from business, government and national media, as well as sustainability experts.
The summit has brought together companies, community groups, colleges and schools to highlight how the climate change threat presents a unique opportunity for the Humber to attract significant investment and create thousands of skilled jobs.
Addressing online attendees on the final day of the summit, Mr Kwarteng said: “The Humber is a world-leading industrial cluster.
“Its history, traditions and culture are in engineering expertise, in entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.”
Highlighting examples such as Siemens Gamesa’s wind turbine factory in Hull, Mr Kwarteng said: “There is a huge range of opportunities. The Humber region has established itself as a real powerhouse as far as renewable energy is concerned.
“The Humber is absolutely central to our green transition and our green recovery. It represents an excellent example – a beacon, if you like – to many other industrial clusters across the UK.
“It’s absolutely vital in this difficult time of the Covid crisis that we can use the expertise you have here in the Humber to build back greener and to build back better.”
Mr Kwarteng’s comments came on the summit’s Sustainable Financing Day, which included a discussion around how to bridge the gap between capital funding and project delivery. Participants included Richard Gwilliam, Head of Clusters at Drax; Adam Beardmore, Business Development Lead at Centrica Storage; and Jonathan Briggs, Humber Zero Project Director for Vitol Group.
Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, shared Mr Kwarteng’s view that the Humber is ideally placed to help the recovery from Covid-19 with the crucial role it has to play in a growing green economy.
Speaking earlier in the week on a panel debate as part of International Business Day, he said: “The climate issue will still be with us after Covid.
“In thinking about recovering from what is the deepest recession we’ve had since records began, it’s very important we take the opportunity to address climate change as well.
“There are huge commercial opportunities attached to climate change and you are already demonstrating that with the work you are doing around the Humber.
“The good news is that there’s a great demand to invest in supporting climate change.”
Andy Parkinson, Chair of Marketing Humber, told the summit the Humber has to grasp this unique opportunity.
“We need to demonstrate technologies are future proof and can work, and we believe the Humber is the place to do that,” he said.
“When you look at the Humber region it’s a microcosm of the five grand challenges – power, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and housing.
“This is the perfect demonstration region of these global challenges in one place. We can be a test bed to develop technology here. If you can solve it on the Humber, you can solve it anywhere in the world.”
Held in partnership with the University of Hull and Yorkshire Water, The Waterline Summit builds on the growing momentum across the estuary to embrace pioneering technologies, attract investment and create jobs in a green economy.
This year’s event featured a virtual conference centre, including a lobby, networking lounge, exhibition hall and auditorium, hosted on the vFairs platform. Attendees were able to browse exhibition stands, engage with exhibitors, network using the live chat function and attend talks and panel discussions.
Other high-profile speakers included David Shukman, Science Editor of BBC News; Mark England, Team GB’s Director of Sport Services and Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 (now rescheduled to 2021); and award-winning business journalist and presenter Nadine Dereza.
Schools, colleges and communities had opportunities throughout the week to share ideas and best practice, as well as learn about current and future career paths opened up by the region embracing a sustainable future.
The summit also heard about key projects taking place across the estuary, including updates on the £1.5bn Lagoon Hull scheme and £200m Yorkshire Energy Park.
Diana Taylor, Managing Director of Marketing Humber, said: “The level of interest and engagement with the summit throughout the week has been phenomenal and has further strengthened the understanding that climate change is not only the Humber’s biggest threat, but also its biggest opportunity.”
[Rick Lyon – Meehan Media & Comms]